Title: Don’t Let Happiness Pass You By
Word Count: 2,968
Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter or any of the characters
( Story Here )
Hogsmeade’s overcast sky filled with dark grey, low hanging clouds set the scene so well it was nearly clichéd. If he weren’t at a funeral he might see the humor in it, but as he is, he can’t. A warm, moisture laden breeze kisses his brow but does little to relieve the oppressive humidity. He wonders, and not for the first time, at the wisdom of wearing robes in July.
Still numb and not yet able to feel the pain, pain he thought he had addressed twenty years ago, at least that is what he is telling himself, Sirius lets his eyes take in the all too predictable landscape. Tall, thin pines, impressive hunks of stone carved with family names and the occasional larger than life angel of mercy meet his gaze, adding interest, if melancholic, to his surroundings.
Of course, that was not the sort of internment that awaited the poor soul in the coffin before him, lying silent, an emotional black hole. Sirius thinks about that and almost laughs; another Black in the family’s hole.
The ornate mausoleum bearing the family name had already been relieved of the empty casket, a showpiece upon which his mother had insisted. There had been no body at Regulus’ first funeral although his death had been assured, a warning to other Death Eater’s of what the consequences of betrayal were, as if they didn’t already know.
It would be his fate in death, as in life, to lie in an exalted position among his family, his earth dwelling peers forced to look up at him.
The rustling of fabric alerts him to the uncomfortable restlessness of his godson behind him, sitting with his fiancé Ginny Weasley. Sirius is grateful for his friends, his true family, who have come to the funeral of a man they don’t know in support of him. It eases his sense of depression in this situation that dredges up past thoughts and feelings, violating his mind with memories he tries to suppress, memories he’d had to relive over and over in Azkaban. He hadn’t even needed to ask as arrangements were made on his behalf once the body had been released to him.
‘Poor, Regulus,’ he thinks. ‘An Inferi.’
The reanimated dead, Voldemort’s dreaded army, had been Regulus’ afterlife for the last twenty years. An enormous cache had been discovered in a cave to which Harry had directed the Ministry. They had immediately undertaken the arduous and magically difficult task of providing peace for these wretchedly abused departed.
The minutes drag like hours as they await the appointed time. Sirius stretches to relieve the tension in his neck and then runs a hand across his jaw, feeling the coarse growth already peeking though his skin. He flips his hair out of his eyes and casts a glance at his watch.
‘Nearly time,’ he thinks.
As he brings his eyes forward to the front he lets them ghost over Hermione who is once again gazing at him, this time with pity in her eyes. This irritates him because he doesn’t want or think he deserves anyone’s pity. He controls the angry glare, barely, and averts his eyes to the front. What he wants from her, has wanted from her for months, has nothing to do with pity.
Finally, Dumbledore ambles to the front of the assembled friends and substitute family of Sirius Black and begins to speak about Regulus and the sacrifice he made. Sirius barely hears a word of it as his mind ruminates on the day he learned that his brother had been found.
Kingsley Shacklebolt had caught up to him in the Hogshead Inn where Aberforth Dumbledore was serving him another shot of firewhiskey. He had been in a fabulous mood, had nearly made the decision to make his feelings plain to Hermione, consequences be damned. That was when it had been presented to him.
Kingsley had a ring in an evidence bag, a ring Sirius would have recognized anywhere, his family’s ring. The Black family crest, inlaid in the surface of a smooth black stone, onyx, its double chevron flanked by two greyhounds, was centuries old.
“Where – where did you get this?” asked Sirius, his toned hushed and fearful. “This ring hasn’t been seen since my brother disappeared.”
“We think we may have found him,” said Kingsley. “We’ll need you to come to the Ministry and identify the body.”
The pale, translucent skin covering the quivering flesh that had once been Regulus Arcturus Black, the flesh of his lips turned up in a macabre smile, was a sight that would star in his nightmares for months to come. Sirius simply nodded his head after which a series of complicated spells were performed on the body, quieting it forever. Watching the magic that gave false life to Regulus leave his body was like watching him die, the grimaced smile slackened into nothing.
‘Oh, Reg,’ thought Sirius. ‘One of the hardest things is trying to get over you, but having to watch your smile slowly fade away, is even harder.’
“Today we honor this life with a proper burial as is fitting for a hero.” Dumbledore pauses to look at Sirius who is lost in his thoughts. A hand from his godson, pushing on his shoulder, stirs him into the here and now. Realizing it is his turn to speak, that it is right for him to do so, he gets up and walks the few feet to the front and stands in front of his brother’s coffin.
“I always thought becoming a Death Eater was an odd choice for Reg. I knew he only did it to please my parents, the rest of our family. He was a quiet kid, about as opposite from me as can be,” he laughs, just a little but it’s not really a happy laugh.
“I’m not glad he’s dead, of course,” he says, awkwardly, fumbling his words, “but in the end, if he had to die, it’s good it turned out this way, that he died on the right side.”
He pauses then, considering his words but he really can’t think of anything else to say and emotion is threatening to overwhelm so he simply gives a weak smile as he looks up at his loved ones, catching Hermione’s eye, again.
There’s a lot of that, of him looking at her, finding that she is already looking at him. It’s this, this visual connection that gave him the confidence to follow his heart that day in the Hogshead Inn. Upon reflection he finds that he isn’t sure any longer. Still.
Of course now is not the time.
Sirius takes his seat and watches as the coffin is levitated and placed within the family’s eternal home, the slot his coffin slides into already bears his name. The magical seal is placed over Regulus’ new home and something about it feels right to Sirius. Family was always important to Regulus, he would want to be here, even if it was many, many years too soon.
“You ready, Sirius?” asks Harry. He nods mutely and stands to follow his godson out like a lost puppy because truly he isn’t sure what to do with himself.
As he passes by Hermione, who is distracted with Luna Lovegood, Ron’s newest girlfriend, he hears the dippy blond say something that surprises him.
“Sometimes people put up walls, not to keep people away, but to see who cares enough to tear them down.”
He wonders why Hermione would need to hear something like that at a time like this but chalks it up to the eccentricities of this newest and by far loopiest of Ron’s women.
As they reach the end of the small grouping of people Sirius is surprised to see Severus Snape at the back, giving the clouds a run for their money.
“What are you doing here?” asks Sirius, rudely, out of habit more than anything else.
“I knew your brother, fairly well, he was a good friend.” Severus manages to keep in mind that they are at a funeral, the funeral of this man’s brother and keeps his tongue civil.
“Your welcome to come to the house,” says Sirius stiffly and then walks away without waiting for a response.
Once they are at the house, away from the stone reminders of the occasion, it is easier for everyone to relax. George, Fred and Bill wax philosophically about love and get more and more ridiculous by the minute.
“You know it's love when you want to keep holding hands even after you're sweaty.” Fred winks largely at Angelina who shakes her head and walks away. “I adore her,” he confesses with confidence.
“You only think that because a man is already halfway in love with any woman who listens to him.” Ginny’s laughter follows her out of the sitting room and into the kitchen.
“Who says I listen to him?” teases Angelina, earning a cross look from Fred.
Sirius chuckles at the Weasley’s antics as he follows a path to the library. He is happy to have a houseful of people but right now he needs some time to himself and no one ever goes into the library, save Remus or Hermione and he wouldn’t mind their company if they chose to share it.
After fixing a glass of firewhiskey, he finds a seat by the fire and stares into it, letting fond memories of Regulus from their childhood visit him. They were never allowed in here as children, therefore, naturally, this is the one room they were always trying to sneak into. Regulus would never let trouble find him if he were to follow his own impulses but he idolized his troublemaking older brother and would go along with anything Sirius suggested.
The old Black library holds a lot of secrets and Sirius has no illusions about having uncovered them all. This house had stood here for centuries and if his father were anything to judge by, the library was the Mecca for all things that needed to be hidden.
Truth be told, Sirius is uncomfortable with the idea of anyone in here without him. He hates to think that someone might get hurt by some undiscovered magical death trap. In fact, that is how his feelings for her had developed. She lobbied him for months for access to the library, a room she hadn’t known about when she was still a student at Hogwarts.
That had been Remus’ suggestion, not informing the kids about the library. Sirius remembered his own childhood and realized that Remus was right. There was no surer way of guaranteeing that they would find and explore the library than if they were told they weren’t allowed to.
Once she had learned of its existence she had been relentless. She had actually done research on the Black library and found that it was home to some of the magical world’s rarer texts. This excited her to the point of hysteria. Sirius had finally agreed, just to shut her up with the stipulation that she not come up here without escort.
She agreed and they arranged to meet on Sunday afternoons, it came to be a part of the week that he looked forward to. It was her quirks that he found fascinating. She could be so opened minded until she made up her mind after which she would entertain other arguments but would rarely be swayed. Some of her ideas were just as prejudiced as she accused others of being. He discovered this while debating her about house elves.
“I don’t have a problem with house elves, Hermione, just that house elf,” he had laughed at the little scowl she threw at him. It was the first moment he realized she was adorable in his eyes.
“But don’t you see,” she implored. “He can’t help what he is, can’t help the things that he says.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that you’re the one who is prejudiced?” He congratulated himself on the look of outrage.
“Explain,” she had said rather tersely.
“Well, I treat Kreacher the same way I would treat anyone who called a friend of mine a mudblood. I don’t make excuses for him because he’s a house elf anymore than I would make excuses for myself because I’m a pureblood. You on the other hand draw attention to the fact that he is different instead of holding him to the same standard you would hold anyone else. You say you want them treated the same and yet you don’t treat them the same.”
Instead of answering she had simply turned and disappeared into a far corner of the library.
It was during this time that her relationship with Ron had gone South. The quiet of the library was not the best place to hide the soft sobbing that drew his attention. Thinking that the library had sprung one of its traps, he had gone in search of her. She was at the end of an aisle with her back against a set of shelves, her head in her hands, her whole body shaking.
Sirius could tell at a glance that this had nothing to do with the library. Debating whether or not he should join her, whether he should let her sort this out on her own but in the end his selfishness won out. He wanted to comfort her, pictured her head on his shoulder, spilling all her woes to him. Sitting down beside her in silence, he waited for her to tell him to go or let him be a friend to her.
“I’m sorry, Sirius,” she said with a loud sniffle.
He gallantly conjured a handkerchief for her and said, “Not at all, Hermione. Want to talk about it?”
“Ron,” she said simply.
“No man is worth your tears, and the one that is won't make you cry.” Sirius was thinking of himself when he said these words to her.
“Thank you, Sirius,” she said gratefully, smiling through her tears.
That interchange had taken place a year and half ago and since that time his feelings for her had grown, boosted by the fact that she had never found a replacement for Ron.
Sirius sips his drink awhile longer in silence and ponders the looks they have been exchanging. He worries that he is suffering from an overly active imagination, that her glances are only those of one friend to another, for that is what they have become, friends and confidants.
The laughter from a few floors down reminds him that he has guests and that he has probably taken long enough. He only wanted a moment to himself after all and now he’s had that. As he finishes off the last of his firewhiskey he hears a small noise at the door and turns to see what it is.
“How are you holding up?” she asks as she comes into the room.
“Better,” he replies.
“In all of this we’ve forgotten that tomorrow is Harry’s birthday, Neville’s too,” she says.
“Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes,” says Sirius with a grin.
Hermione blinks a few times, uncertain how to respond to that.
“Swimming, Hermione. We should don our bathers tomorrow, take everyone for a nice afternoon in the sun, it is July after all.” He wonders what she thought he might have meant.
“Oh,” she says and she sounds disappointed. “That’s a wonderful idea. Harry would love that.”
There is a moment of silence as Sirius ponders his feelings for her, why he’s waited so long to tell her and then realizes this is hardly the occasion for it.
“It makes you think, doesn’t it,” she says, breaking the silence.
“What does?” he asks.
“Well, Regulus was only eighteen when he died,” she explains. “You think you have all of this time but nothing is guaranteed.”
“It does make you think,” he agrees and is surprised by the step forward that she takes.
“It’s a mistake,” she continues, “to let opportunities for happiness to pass you by, don’t you agree?” and then she is another step closer.
Sirius looks into her eyes and sees a mix of emotion that surprises him. She wants something from him but is hesitant about asking for it.
“Well, then, let’s agree not to let happiness slip us by,” he suggests softly, hoping and now he is stepping closer to her.
And then her arms are around his neck and she is kissing him, her soft lips moving against his and it is better than he imagined it would be. His hands are in her hair and around her waist and there is nothing more important than this young witch who is so far out of his league it is laughable. Their tongues and lips dance out a slow rhythm that communicates months of mutual want.
When she breaks away to breathe he moves his mouth down across her jaw, to her neck, unwilling to let this moment pass anytime soon but her sense of propriety gets in the way of his plotting.
“You have a houseful of people, Sirius,” she whispers reluctantly.
“Don’t care,” he says and his voice is rough with need.
“They’re here for your brother’s funeral,” she presses and he sighs, defeated.
“Alright,” he concedes.
“We still have tonight and every night after that,” she soothes.
He pulls her closer for another kiss and when he finally releases her he whispers in her ear, “When my company is gone you are in a lot of trouble.” Her involuntary shudder pulls a soft laugh from him.
As she leads him by the hand out of the library he takes one look back and decides this is definitely his favorite room in the house. ( Story Here )